DVD Tuesday Network The movie that took on trash TV three decades agoWith all the Oscar talk about veteran director Sidney Lumet 82 being snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences despite overwhelming accolades for his new Before the Devil Knows Youre Dead this seems a good time to revisit one of Lumets classics the 30-year-old denunciation of trash television Network I always remembered Network as broad and exagerrated but I saw it again a couple of years ago and boy was I wrong If anything its not wild enoughGolden Age of Television writer Paddy Chayefskys furious screenplay grew out of the 1970s-era push to shift network-news programs into the entertainment groups suddenly forcing them to compete with sitcoms game shows and soap operas for ratings and more importantly moneyVeteran New York newsman Howard Beale Peter Finch who won a well-deserved Oscar is unceremoniously given the boot after 25 years and loses it on air
A surprising number of movies had to make do with single nominations in the major categoriesViggo Mortensen picked up a best-actor nom as an icy Russian Gangster in David Cronenbergs brutal thriller Eastern Promises ditto Johnny Depp for Tim Burtons gothic adaptation of Stephen Sondheims musical Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Sentimental favorite Hal Holbrook 82 hell be 83 by the time the ceremony takes place took a best supporting actor nomination for Sean Penns Into the Wild based on Jon Krakauers nonfiction account of a troubled young mans search for meaning that eventually takes him deep into the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness It was also ignored in all other major categories despite strong reviews for Penns direction and adapted screenplay as well as Emile Hirschs performance in the lead role Audiences failed to warm to the film Much-loved veteran character actress Ruby Dee 83 got the only nomination for best-supporting actress 15
"This movie is going to raise holy hell, and I may never work again," says director Sidney Lumet of HBO's Strip Search, a provocative drama about civil liberties in the post-9/11 era that airs April 27. The story cross-cuts between two degrading interrogations: In China, an American student (Maggie Gyllenhaal) gets grilled about her political activities, while in the U.S., an FBI agent (Glenn Close) gives a Saudi scholar (Bruno Lastra) the third degree. Now here's the kicker: Both sequences use the exact same script, implicitly equating the countries' treatment of suspects.
The filmmakers maintain they're simply taking dramatic license to tell a cautionary tale. "Am I saying we're a totalitarian country? No," says writer Tom Fontana. "Am I saying we could become one? Absolutely."
Such contentions have already stirred controversy among conservative watchdogs. "The premise is preposterous and insulting," says Media Research